All too often, we are faced with the challenge of re-prioritizing where our time is spent. Our jobs change, so our schedule changes; our family dynamics change, so our personal time changes; or we simply have an eye-opening experience of where wasted time is spent and our focus changes. No matter how many times I re-prioritize my schedule – which seems to happen weekly sometimes – the two priorities that make the list are always my faith and my fitness.
The two are ingrained in a way that they often simply become one. My faith has had different levels of involvement depending on what my schedule has held, however, it is never put by the wayside; my fitness is no different. But regardless, the more the two are intertwined, the harder it is to let either be ignored. With many people, physical fitness is frequently the first element to be dropped from the to-do list as schedules get busy and stress gets high. Start using your fitness as a way to strengthen your body as well as your spirituality and you’ll find it easy to prioritize.
The first step in bringing faith into your fitness is to use it as a form of motivation and a time of gratitude. Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins; can you simply “suffer” through a workout? Puts it into perspective, doesn’t it? He died on the cross for us. His actions, his perseverance, his focus were all for us. Can you do the same for him? Yes, your workout might be uncomfortable, yes it might burn your lungs and burn your muscles, yes you may have to put forth some physical exertion, but how do you think it felt to carry that cross? Many times we just don’t “want” to exercise – believe me, I’ve been there, more times than I care to admit. We are tired, not motivated, or simply distracted. Are those really legitimate reasons to not want to exercise? So remember next time when the complaining sets in, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice. In order for you to take care of the temple he has blessed you with, he is only asking you for some physical exertion; let this be your motivation.
Let’s assume you are motivated now and the burn has set in, why not now focus on gratitude? This is one I often turn to when the desire to quit early approaches or the intensity is turned up and I need that extra drive to maintain it. Gratitude is so incredibly easy to have, yet we more often turn to complaining instead. Complaining does nothing positive for you, others, or God. Gratitude, however, can have the exact opposite effect. Once you focus on what you can be thankful for, the ability of your legs, your lungs, your heart, your sight, your mind, your opportunities, your family, your food, your shelter, your whole perspective changes. Tie something positive like your gratitude to your workout and see if it doesn’t develop a whole new notion to push to new limits. Lift your workout up to God; give Him all the glory.
The second way your faith can be brought into your fitness is through witnessing to others. I am not talking about standing up on a weight bench and preaching. Use your fitness and your discipline first as an example. If you truly see your body as a temple, take care of it. Show others what it means to take care of your body on a regular basis from the food that you eat to the exercise you initiate. Serve others by teaching them and educating them with what you know. Serve them by motivating them to follow the same path. Be that light to others that shows them how rewarding and fulfilling it can be to have inner and outer strength. Lead by example.
Finally, place faith in your fitness just as you place your faith in God. If He truly knows every hair on your head, don’t you think He knows the path of your fitness? It is so easy to give up when the goal seems so far away or the obstacles seem too many to count. You never know what is right around the corner; for those of you that are competitive – a personal record, for those of you struggling to lose weight – a loss of inches, for those of you waiting out an injury-healing, or for those of you struggling with body image – a fresh outlook on life. God wants to be with you in every aspect of your life, including your fitness, if you would only ask him. To have faith is to believe in what you can yet see. Results won’t happen over night, sometimes God needs more than 24 hours to show you his plan. You must take that first step and yes, you must initiate the work, but you don’t have to do it alone. Believe me, God is right there working with you.
So the next time you want to skip out on a workout, look at it as spending time with God; strengthening your body and strengthening your spirit. Not only will you get in a great workout while pushing harder than you expected, but you will leave with more fulfillment, more perspective, and quite possibly more results!